Security Council gives go-ahead for Syria observer mission

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Security Council gives go-ahead for Syria observer mission

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The deployment of 300 UN military observers to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire in Syria has moved a step closer after the three-month mission finally got the go-ahead from the Security Council.

But it will only start if UN chief Ban Ki-moon feels conditions on the ground are suitable.

However the resolution was passed unanimously – sending a message to Damascus that the international community is increasingly speaking with one voice on the year-long unrest.

The death toll in Syria is continuing to rise – if more slowly – despite a handful of observers being in the country for the past week. They were allowed to visit Homs – the epicentre of the anti-government uprising – for the first time on Saturday.

Anti-regime rallies went ahead across Syria on Friday, including in Zabadani on the Lebanese border. Protesters say the peace plan negotiated by UN envoy Kofi Annan is bound for failure.

One rebel soldier said they were trying to follow the plan but the government was continuing to shell the city and attack protesters so they would have to keep trying to protect them.

If the UN team ever gets here it will have an uphill struggle to get either side to really lay down its weapons.

More than 40 people were reported killed on Friday – many in government shelling of Homs but 15 in roadside bombs targeting security forces.